On the eve of America’s lurch toward independence Benjamin Franklin, the most famous of his countrymen in the world at large, was in London. The prospects for peace and the avoidance of civil war within the British Empire declined precipitously in the last two years of his stay. Franklin’s part in that dramatic shift is the story of this book. It explores the various decisions and choices Franklin made. He was then serving among other roles as agent for the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Both the consequences and assumptions of those decisions are examined, as well as their avowed purposes. Other facets, too, of Franklin’s life in that critical period, 1773–1775, are collected and focused to shed light on those decisions and their impact. The purpose of this Introduction is to reconstruct important elements of that wider context of related circumstances.
First, there were his many roles and interests.
Several circumstances stand out from those several years of Franklin’s last stay in London. Perhaps the most notable of them is that Franklin wore so many hats that it is difficult to see how he kept them straight. He was there, from the start of this eleven-year stint, to finish the business of the Pennsylvania House in challenging the Penns’ hold on the charter and lands